Community meeting

Drainage issues discussed at community meeting | New

With 100-year rainfall increasing by more than 20% in recent studies, city officials and LJA Engineering answered long-awaited questions about local drainage issues from community participants at an engagement meeting public held at the Sam Houston Statue Visitor Center this Thursday. Kathlie Jeng-Bulloch, LJA and Director of Engineering for the City of Huntsville, has prepared a series of regional flood maps and a presentation to help address drainage issues facing Huntsville residents.

According to LJA, the Huntsville flood maps are based on 46-year-old topographic data, with that in mind, the engineering firm sought direct citizen input to plan their solution. However, before that happened, locals were on hand to make sure their grievances were addressed. Some said they had waited more than 20 years to be properly heard by the city. Citizens complained that the city had sidestepped their concerns and subsequently sown mistrust in neighboring parties.

“I trust the engineering company and its findings. I just hope and pray that the city takes care of this and acts quickly because the situation is quite serious, ”said owner RQ Swann.

Residents said problem areas like Elkins Lake, Spring Lake and McDonald Creek had been overlooked and needed a quick response from the city to rectify perceived failures by former officials. A resident suggested the possibility of a class action lawsuit involving the City of Huntsville for damages, such as foundation problems caused by flooding on their property.

In response, LJA offered to schedule another meeting in two months and introduced a community outreach app called LUKE designed to geotag and identify issues in utilities using real-time updates. A photo-based format was chosen to get a more accurate look at the problem LJA might be facing. Audience input forms were also made available and specific issues were identified by local owners on regional maps in the room after the presentation.

Jeng-Bulloch reiterated his confidence in LJA and heard the community’s improvement ideas, such as preserving local vegetation and a moratorium on housing development. City officials also assured citizens that they are listening carefully and plan to include their suggestions for future development plans, especially regarding flood prevention and reduction.

“The city is full of good, hard-working employees, but I sympathize with their problem and that’s why we reached out to this engineering firm to identify and resolve their issues,” Mayor Andy Brauninger said. “I sympathize with people who have problems. In a city of 40,000 people, we have areas in this city that have problems and we are going to solve them. We have addressed them, but we still have work to do.